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Iomega SuperDVD QuickTouch 16X drive takes convenience more seriously than speed. This USB drive offers one-touch direct DVD recording from just about any standard A/V source, a plus for movie archivists and budding directors. Unfortunately, its performance misses the mark. We might be willing to overlook mediocre CD audio and file-handling speeds, but we can't forgive scoring dead last among external drives for writing to a 16X DVD+R from a hard drive, especially when the drive's main focus is DVD authoring (though its 8X DVD+R recording is speedy). If you want the convenience of one-touch recording and you're not concerned about speed, the SuperDVD could serve you well. Otherwise, almost any other external CD/DVD writer will give you faster results.
The Iomega SuperDVD drive is housed in an attractive charcoal and silver case with a series of status LEDs aligned above the front top edge. The front of the drive has only an activity LED and an eject button; the headphone jack is noticeably absent--you have to channel audio through your PC's speakers. The drive's rounded rectangular shape will fit into almost any small space. The slight bulge on the top precludes stacking anything on top of the drive, however.
As with most USB drives, installation is quick and simple (FireWire users are out of luck here, as are Mac users; the drive works only with Windows). However, the SuperDVD requires you to install the included HotBurn Pro and Sonic MyDVD software before you connect the hardware (both programs are Windows only). Connecting the drive is as easy as plugging the USB cable into a USB 2.0 port on your computer (it's compatible with USB 1.1, but USB 2.0 will give you optimal performance) and connecting the drive's external power adapter. Be aware that the drive's power port looks almost identical to its S-Video port, so double-check your connections; you don't want to damage a plug by trying to jam it in the wrong socket. Your PC will recognize the drive and complete the installation for you. The drive includes basic printed documentation for installation and video capture, but there are so many languages crammed onto the poster-size sheet that it takes longer to find the right language than it does to read the actual instructions (a more comprehensive manual is included on the CD). You'll have to configure the Sonic MyDVD software so that the program launches automatically when you press the Record button on the drive.
The Iomega SuperDVD QuickTouch drive is versatile, supporting a complete suite of CD and DVD media (including double-layer DVDs) at speeds comparable to most other drives. This makes the SuperDVD well suited for almost every type of multimedia task imaginable. But capturing video is the SuperDVD's strength. Its internal video-capture card will accept direct RCA and S-Video connections from video cameras, VCRs, or other sources, then capture directly to CD (MPEG-1) or DVD (MPEG-2), writing once the capture is complete. It doesn't just capture little 320x200 windows. Rather, the SuperDVD drive works at full NTSC, PAL, and SECAM resolutions.
Enough bundled software is included with the drive to meet almost any task. Iomega's Solutions CD includes an electronic manual with detailed information on drive installation and use and even some troubleshooting. You also receive a series of applications, such as HotBurn Pro and DVD Wizard for creating music and data discs, Sonic MyDVD for DVD capture/authoring, CinePlayer 1.5 for DVD playback, Iomega Automatic Backup for creating/managing system backup projects, MusicMatch Jukebox for music management, and Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 for photo management and editing. However, CD-RW enthusiasts may still need to purchase a separate UDF file reader, such as Roxio's Drag-to-Disc, for packet-writing tasks. Again, Mac users are out of luck.
In spite of its versatility, however, the SuperDVD is a mixed bag when it comes to performance. For CD audio ripping and burning, the SuperDVD proved itself entirely mediocre, ripping a 74:35 CD in 3:10, and burning the same 74:35 CD in 6:47, comparable to the . Double-layer (DL) performance also fell well within the pack, as the SuperDVD burned a 7.9GB movie from a hard drive in 43:10, and ripped the same movie in 17:15. By comparison, Sony's external burned the movie in 43:59 and ripped it in 17:10, while Sony's DRU 720A fared notably better, burning DL media in an astonishing 26:21, while ripping it in 17:10. Iomega's SuperDVD is also very much on a par with other drives when it comes to the standard reading and writing (in 4X DVD-RW mode) of data, scoring almost identically to Sony's DVDirect VRD-VC10. The real disappointment came with movie handling. The SuperDVD can rip a 4.4GB video from DVD in 8:50 (again, virtually identical to Sony's DVDirect VRD-VD10 and TDK's Indi-1280B. But the SuperDVD fell to a distant last by burning the same 4.4GB movie in 18:48 (using 16X DVD+R mode). Sony's VRD-VC10--the next-slowest drive in this test--burned to the same 16X DVD+R media in just 10:22. Even a recent Iomega firmware update didn't help speed things along. (In fairness, the SuperDVD drive accomplished the same burn to 8X DVD-R media in only 8:24--faster than the Sony and TDK models.)
Iomega backs the SuperDVD QuickTouch with a standard one-year warranty. Toll-based phone support is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. If you prefer to save toll charges, Iomega's SuperDVD Web page provides live chat, answers to common questions, electronic manuals, and access to software/driver updates.
|4.4GB DVD Video burn test||4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
** The TDK drive writes to 8X DVD-R media at 12X.
|7.9GB DVD Video burn test||7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
|74:35 CD Audio burn test||74:35 CD Audio rip test|
|4.22GB RW write test||4.22GB RW read test|
Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.